Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My WishList

Okay, I'm not posting this to drop hints or be pushy, just because I've had a couple of people asking lately what I want for my birthday. Now, there are lots of great ideas, stuff for my bike, stuff for the house, etc, but for those who just want a simple list of things I want that they don't have to think about, I'm posting a link again to the wishlist I have setup on amazon. If you click the link below, it will take you straight to a list of things I've marked that I want and don't already have. Of course, feel free to ignore the list entirely if you like, none of it is life or death, just some ideas.

Steve's Wishlist

And remember, if you buy it from Amazon by starting with that link, I also get a % of the purchase price back in my amazon associate's account, so it's an even bigger gift! :)

Edit: Oh, and if you just can't decide, my wishlist also includes:

Amazon Gift Cards!

Share and Share Alike

One of the websites I visit most, probably more than any other, is Google Reader. If you're not familiar with it, Google Reader is a web based RSS reader. In plain Dnglish, that means it grabs all the stories from my favorite websites, and puts them together in one place. It's easy to use, and let's me go to one site to skim hundreds of headlines and part or full articles each day, from 50 or more different web sites.

Why do you care? Because I've decided to share. No, Google Reader isn't some big secret that you need me to get in on. Some of you, however, might be interested in things that I think are interesting. I've used the 'Share' feature of google reader occasionally, and will begin using it more. On the right side of my page, you'll now notice a section with a few headlines of my 'shared' items. These are news articles, comics, other interesting things from various websites that I've enjoyed. If I think those of you who read my blog might like it, I'll click the share button in google reader, and it will show up in that panel. Some of the articles might interest all of you, and some none of you, but hopefully most of the bits I share will be of use or interest to someone out there.

In the mean time, if you follow a lot of websites on a regular basis, and don't currently use an RSS reader to make it easier, check out google reader!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wii Users: Guitar Hero World Tour Band Kit $119 Today only

Amazon has the Guitar Hero World Tour Band Kit for $70 off regular price today in their gold box deals. $119 includes the game, guitar, drums, and microphone, and free shipping. (Free 2 day if you have amazon prime, super saver shipping otherwise.)

Update: The Guitar Kit for wii is also on sale right now, as a lightning deal, for $59.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

GrandCentral grows up! (Now known as Google Voice)

Some of you may know I'm a big fan of the GrandCentral service, and have been using it for some time. Because there hadn't been any word from google about it in a long time, rumors were going around that it might be on the 'chopping block' to get shut down along with some other google services recently. Fortunately, that's not the case.

The long delay was in fact due to Google totally rebuilding the service, rather than just changing it piece by piece to a google product. Starting today, users of GrandCentral will begin seeing their accounts converted to Google Voice accounts. Google voice will have all the great features of GrandCentral, plus a lot of new or improved features.

I've written about GrandCentral before, so I'll just touch on the basics here. Essentially, it's a service that gives you a new phone number. That phone number is the only one you need from that point forward. Anytime someone calls that number, it will ring through to your home, cell phone, work phone, or any other numbers you like, all at the same time. If you don't answer, the calls go to one central voice mail box. New with the Google voice upgrade, all voicemails will be transcribed as well. Don't want to call in and listen to a message? Just read the transcribed version emailed to you from Google Voice.

The service does a LOT more, including filtering based on address book information and groups, click to call, and SMS (text messaging). If you use more than one phone number, you should really check it out. Of course, right now they are only converting grandcentral users to the new google voice. They should begin taking new signups in a few weeks though. Check back here and I'll post when you can sign up!

More waiting. Can we hurry up and buy the house yet?

As of today, we're still waiting for the appraisal to come in for our house. Meanwhile, our Realtor found a lien against the house from the local subdivision association that maintains the community well. It took some digging, but she did get a hold of the president of the association, and found that the bill had been paid, but the lien wasn't released. He's supposed to take care of that today.

At this point, I'm beginning to think we won't get to close next week either. Unless the lien release and appraisal come in today or early tomorrow, I think we're looking at the week of the 23rd sometime for closing date.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Recently, you may have seen commercials on TV for a new non-sugar sweetener, Truvia.  For those who fast forward through commercials with their TiVo, here’s what I’m talking about.

I’ve heard of Stevia before (the plant that Truvia is made from), but hadn’t tried it.  With these recent commercials, plus reading a bit of discussion online about it, I went out in search of this new miracle product.  The local HyVee didn’t have it, and CVS had Splenda and Equal on the shelves, but no sign of Truvia

Allison was successful at last on a trip to Wal-mart.  She brought home a box of 40 packets of Truvia sweetner.  I’ve got to say, after one taste, I’m sold.  This stuff is very sweet, and tastes great.  One packet of Truvia sweetens a glass of tea, when I would have used 2 or three packets of equal or splenda.  After doing some reading, I’ve learned that Truvia is made with a kind of sugar alcohol that doesn’t affect blood sugar, and has less potential for side effects than other sweeteners.  Plus, it doesn’t have the after taste that many people associate with artificial sweetener.  In fact, the after taste, if any, is just more sweetness. 

Now, Truvia isn’t the only new Stevia based sweetener on the market.  While Coca-cola was busy developing Truvia, Pepsi-co was hard at work on Purevia.  I’ve not yet seen Purevia in stores, but from what I’ve read, it’s essentially the same product.  I’ll be sure and give it a try.  In the meantime, I won’t be buying Equal anymore. 

Friday, March 06, 2009


Well, here it is, Friday again. I'm sitting at work, shuffling backup tapes around, and waiting for our banker to call and tell us the Appraisal finally came in. Because we're still waiting for the appraisal, and because HUD wants 7 days notice to schedule the closing, it looks like we probably won't be able to close next week.

Still, It's March, less than 3 weeks from my birthday, hopefully less than 2 weeks until we become homeowners, just 8 weeks until William is due, and most importantly of all:

Yeah, it's a great day!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

You've Made a Sale!

One thing about moving, it's a great time to get rid of stuff you don't need or use anymore. Getting rid of things, however, doesn't necessarily mean throwing them away. Allison and I have a lot of old books we bought and read years ago, and probably won't read again. Rather than moving all of them to the new house and taking up space, I listed many of the books on Half is an ebay owned site, which specializes in selling books and dvd's at a low, fixed price. It's safer than regular ebay for a seller, since the buyer pays directly, and half pays the seller twice a month.

I'm not going to get rich selling used books, considering the book I just sold went for $1.43, and takes $.21 of that. They do include money for shipping though, and the actual shipping cost in this case was a little less than what they gave me. Bonus!

On the other hand, if you've got used textbooks to part with, you can generally get some pretty good money for them. I remember selling one some time ago for more than $30.

Besides books and movies, I've got some other miscellaneous stuff that I'm going to try listing on ebay. Cables, parts, pieces, etc that I don't need anymore, but you never know who might be willing to pay $1 for a pci network card, or a data cable for an old motorola phone. If it doesn't sell, it goes in the garbage, and I'm out a few cents for listing it. If it does, it goes in the mail, and I've got some extra pocket change. Plus, I know the item went to someone who will appreciate the bargain, rather than going out to a store and buying whatever they need new.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Amazon's Kindle, and app now available for iPhone

I don't know how many of you pay attention to tech news, but lately there's been a lot of focus on the new Kindle 2, Amazon's ebook reader. The first Kindle was pretty impressive, and the new version is even better. With all the great features, and all the recent press coverage, it's hard not to get swept up in the hype and want one. Still, eventually reality sets in. The reader costs $359, just for the hardware. Then you have to buy books, which run about $10 each. Now, compared to going out and buying new release hardcover books, that's a great price, but I tend to wait for books to come out in paperback. Lately, I've not even been buying those, but checking books out from the library instead. So, check books out for free in the old fashioned ink and paper format, or pay $10 each for the digital format? Yeah, that's what I thought.

I might even consider buying some kindle books once in a while, if it weren't for the initial $359 hardware cost. That's where today's news comes in. Amazon has released a Kindle application for the iPhone. Download the app to your phone, and you can buy and read kindle books without paying for the hardware, and without having to carry around yet another device. I don't own an iPhone at this point, but maybe someday I will. Or, perhaps Amazon will release an app for Windows Mobile phones soon. Until then, the Kindle 2 will just be another product that the UMF (Unseen Mystical Force) unsuccessfully tries to convince me to buy.

Update: Cnet has an article up comparing the iPhone app with the real kindle2.

Monday, March 02, 2009

And you thought it cost a lot to fill your gas tank...

An article on 'The Consumerist' describes how a man was charged $81 billion dollars (Yes, that's a B) to fill up his 1994 Camaro. Yes, it was clearly a mistake, but try telling the credit card company that. . .

Free Turbotax Deluxe Federal and State Efile

Using this link, you can use turbotax online to file your taxes for free. This is NOT the 'tax freedom' version that requires under a certain income level. This does apply to both federal and state taxes, and includes efiling. Also, this applies to either the basic or Deluxe editions, where most of these promos are for the basic only.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Cleaning Up

One thing about moving, you find things you’ve not seen for a while.  Allison, Ryan, and I just spent the last hour or two out in the garage, going through boxes of things that we haven’t touched since we moved here about 18 months ago. (Well, Ryan helped a bit, but mostly whined.)

Clearly, with stuff we haven’t used in that long, a lot of it gets pitched.  On top of the stuff that we would throw out just because we don’t use it, we also threw out a bunch of old clothes and such that had never been unpacked, and got half eaten by mice in the garage.  Most of them were out there because they didn’t fit, so at least the mice got some good use out of them.

I also condensed down a lot of computer parts, wires etc.  There were some old ISA network cards in there that I don’t think I’ll ever have a use for.  Of course, now that I’ve pitched them, I’ll probably need one soon.

It’s a little early, but I’m sure many of you will be doing some spring cleaning before too long.  What treasures might you find that you forgot you had?

Crocs 50% 0ff at Amazon Today

I’m not trying to turn this blog into an ad flyer, but I know that some of the people who read this blog like crocs, so I wanted to pass this on.  The Amazon Gold box deal of the day today is Crocs 50% off, starting at $11.49/pair.  If you wear these ugly things, check it out!

Trace Adkins new album on sale for $5

Just a quick note, I saw Trace Adkins X is one of the 'Friday Five' on amazon this weekend. It's on sale for $5 through the weekend.